Is your relationship truly healthy, or perhaps is it just smoke and mirrors?
It may be hard to allow yourself to see abuse happening within your relationship. Between denial and excusing others actions, it can be easy to let things go blindly. But at some point you must realize the emotional and physical toll an abusive relationship can have on a person. The main question you must ask yourself upon realization is;
“Is it time to leave, or can this be worked on?”
First and foremost, education of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is crucial, this will provide you with closure and a better understanding if the person you are dealing with happens to be a narcissist. For a better understanding self research can help as well as our previous blog; How to Identify a Narcissist. More importantly, seeking therapy can play a huge role in overcoming this abuse, granting an outlet to analyze your feelings and help you to better understand your situation and mental state.
However, keep in mind, not everyone’s situation is the same, if the narcissistic abuser happens to be a parent or employer the decision to leave may not be available. Fortunately, there are ways to work on coping with their behavior, or helping them to change if they are open to it.
Key Signs You May Be Dealing With Narcissistic Abuse
- You put aside your own personal values to please this person
Narcissists have a slick way of constantly getting what they want from their victims. Using various manipulation tactics in order to derail a conversion that does not favor them. For instance, you state “I feel that you have not been respecting my boundaries”, the narcissist will become quickly flustered and most likely state you are overeating. Moreover, they will use confusion and irrelevance in order to confuse the victim and ultimately dismantle the whole conversation causing the victim to give up. This reaction will often occur any time the victim voices the way they feel, yet in order to please the abuser and keep things civil they will set aside their values and please the abuser.
- You have become isolated from friends and family
Frequently in narcissistic relationships, the narcissist will dismantle your bonds with others that are close to you. They do this to prevent others from giving you input on the relationship and to maintain control and authority over the victim, further empowering their ego. When it comes to others who have views that differ from the narcissist and/or do not favor the narcissist’s greater good, they will quickly begin feeding the victim lies about this person, gaslighting, and manipulating them into dropping said person from their life. The narcissist brainwashes the victim to be completely submissive and any person who jeopardizes the false reality they have created will be pushed out of the victim’s life.
- You fear if you do not obey, they will leave or rage
In many cases, when the victim voices their opinions or feelings the narcissist will respond with immediate rage, again, especially if it differs from their views or jeopardizes their ego. Many narcissists will often threaten to leave if you do not do as they please, and in most cases the victim will inevitably comply with the abuser because they have been beaten down and developed a toxic codependency and will do anything to obey the abuser in fear of abandonment.
- You often blame yourself their actions or behavior
It is very common for people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder to have the inability to take accountability. This is a result of their sensitive ego, although on the outside they present as a “perfect” person, they cannot handle when their ego is harmed and their facade is smeared. Often they will use tactics to blame- shift, they will gaslight the scenario in a way that paints the victim as the “bad guy”. Often they use the victims insecurities as ammunition to convince the victim that they are the reason for the abusers actions or behavior.
- You feel you can no longer trust your memory or reality
Many victims endure from a pervasive sense of mistrust after suffering from narcissistic abuse. This is caused by the manipulation tactics that the narcissist uses. Gaslighting is a predominant tactic, this entails seeding lies into the brains of the victims in a way that augments their reality causing them to believe that their reality isn’t correct. This entails obstructive reaction, denial, and redirection, the narcissists will react in a grandiose manner, likely with rage. This will cause the victim to lose themselves and their point in the chaos. The narcissist will deny, deny, deny. They insist you are remembering wrong, or that what you had said never had happened, and redirect the subject onto something else, commonly, an issue that they have with you. In the end, this causes the victim to question themselves, is this person right? Am I really being crazy? It brings them to constantly doubt themselves and others.
How to Handle Narcissistic Abuse
- Attempt talking to the narcissist about their behavior
This may be easier said than done, many narcissists become angry when they are told that their behavior is wrong. Many will fail to see anyone else’s point of view and go without change. However, everyone is different and if you truly would like to make things work, try sitting down in a calm manner. Express yourself in a way that does not fully incriminate or attack the narcissist. Try sympathizing with them, state that you understand but also hold true to the point you are trying to make and how their behavior is affecting you and or anyone else around.
- Educate yourself on Narcissistic Personality Disorder
This is vital, if you understand the abuse and the tactics then you will be less inclined to fall victim and allow yourself to be taken advantage of by the narcissist. Not only that, but once you understand why they act the way they do from a psychological perspective it will be easier to speak to them about their actions and try to open them up to seeing things in the eyes of others.
- Understand their past and their trauma
It is much easier to understand why a person acts the way they do when you know their past. Childhood and family life can have a major impact on a person and as years go on they are molded by trauma and success. Knowing what the person has endured can help you sympathize and empathize with why they may behave in ways that they do. However, do not excuse their actions due to their past, instead use it to understand situations better. Instead of quickly getting mad at their actions, voice that you understand why they are acting that way but also state how the way they are reacting is affecting you, and how it can be changed to a healthier manner.
- Try setting boundaries
Setting boundaries can be tough. Narcissists crave control and limits set by others can cause them to spiral. But, try sitting down and explaining why you feel boundaries need to be set, why boundaries will benefit both people, and why what is happening currently is not working. Calm is key when it comes to speaking on things that differ from the normal narcissistic tendencies.
- Explain to them how their behavior makes you feel
Voice your feelings even if you feel the narcissist will become mad. It is important you do this in a way that does not come off as accusational or attacking. When the narcissist feels their pride has been harmed they will react in an obscure manner. Thus, it is important that you state this is just what you feel, and this is the way it is affecting you. It is not that they are a “bad person” but it is just a certain action or reaction that causes you to feel the way you are feeling.
- Talk with others who have experienced narcissistic abuse
This can help you realize more about your situation and come to a better understanding. Also, if you want to leave your situation yet are too scared to, you can get advice from others who have been through the same. Hearing others stories can help inspire you and validate your feelings.
The abuse you have faced may have left you questioning everything about yourself and others. Therapy can be a big help in rebuilding your self esteem and trust. Understand that the issues that you had faced were not solely your fault. You were not overly sensitive and you are entitled to the way you feel. You do not have to discard all of your values to please others, instead others must accept and respect you and your values.
- Accept that you were not the cause of your abuse, nothing you had done could have changed the outcome.
- Recognize that it was not that you were unlovable, they were incapable of loving you.
- Realize that your feelings are always valid, you are entitled to feeling the way you feel, people who are for you should respect that.
- Accept that what you had was not love, you are capable of finding someone who respects you and your values.
- Recognize the red flags in others.
- Do not allow yourself to go back, cut off all contact if possible.
- Rediscover yourself and appreciate your talents.
- Stop putting aside your feelings to appease others.
- Know that you are entitled to boundaries.
- Seek therapy and talk to others who have suffered from the same.
Of course, healing an abusive relationship is not as easy as a few bullet points. But it is helpful and educate yourself and open your eyes to more options. Try new ways to mend the relationship and make it work. However, if you feel that change is not happening and you in turn are suffering, seek the help and support you need in order to build the strength to walk away. Know your worth, you are capable of so much more than you think.